Minggu, 27 Oktober 2013

Big Mac, but no Heinz ketchup

Corporate battles are usually hard fought, but this really is the limit. McDonald's is blacklisting Heinz because they had the temerity to appoint the ex chief of Burger King as their CEO. Sure, some rivalries are legendary - Coke vs Pepsi, P&G vs Unilever, Apple vs Microsoft, Walmart vs every other retailer, and indeed McDonald's vs anybody else who sold burgers. But isn't this a step too far ?

HJ Heinz, the makers of Heinz Ketchup were recently bought out by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathway. The new owners appointed Bernando Hees as the CEO. The trouble is that Bernando is the ex CEO of Burger KIng. Apparently McDonald's is finding this objectionable. So the next time you buy a Big Mac they wouldn't give you those sachets of Heinz - one if you buy in in India, two in China and a fistful in the US !  Presumably it would be somebody else's - maybe Hunt's or whatever.

Yes, corporate rivalries are taken seriously. If you work for Pepsi and are seen drinking  Coke, well, let us say your career is not going to zoom. A long time ago, this blogger was invited to a Pepsi dominated party and thoughtlessly asked for a Coke (just as a generic term for cola) . The hush that followed , the incomprehension of what I had done wrong for a minute, the dawning realisation and then the flush of embarrassment - well; 20 years on, it is still fresh ! Equally vivid is the memory of hosting a Coke delegation at work and going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that Coke was the only cola seen for miles; only to discover one bottle of Aquafina - just one - at somebody's desk.

But that is relatively unusual in these days when corporate loyalties are somewhat passe. This blogger is a die hard alumni of one of the aforesaid mentioned companies and would really hesitate to buy the rival's products. But this is not some religious zeal - just habit formed over the years.

Which is why I am surprised at McDonald's move. They are not such hated rivals of Burger King. And ketchup is a small portion of their ingredients- after all there is a lot more to burgers and fries than ketchup. And Heinz is not doing something ridiculous of going to bed with competition. All they did was appoint somebody as a CEO. Does this warrant such an extreme reaction ? McDonald's is behaving like the proverbial school bully. Grow up, you lot.

Competition need not be a war. The other guy is not some hated tyrant who ought to be exterminated. Sure, you want to beat him, but you do not have to be a Genghis Khan. Cooperation, even with competition, is not unheard of. While Apple is slugging it out in a patent war with Samsung, they quietly buy chips from .

So shame on you McDonald's for issuing this press statement - "As a result of recent management changes at Heinz, we have decided to transition our business to other suppliers over time" . Here is my own statement - As a resulted of pig headed behaviour by McDonald's I am hereby declaring that I will not have a Big Mac ever. Anybody hahaing that statement on the grounds that I am a vegetarian will be hit on the head !

PS - Actually this post has taken somewhat extra liberties with journalistic licence. Heinz has been acquired by Berkshire Hathway and 3G Capital. 3G capital are also the owners of Burger King. So there is more to it than pig headedness. But then , a post is a post is a post and a blogger has to survive ....... :)
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